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Networking Submission


Submitted By jonSnow
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It is the innate desire of every being to maintain balance within one’s life. Among other elements which need to be maintained, the foremost is the balance between professional and social skills. It is this balance which renews our human experiences and paves our way to success. This balance is achieved through networking; professional and social. Like all career paths in engineering practice this stability is vital as it equips us with the skills necessary for interaction with others. Thus the social and professional networking is highly invaluable to engineering as together they provide a balance ultimately leading to success in the field. By definition networking simply means connecting with people or operating with a network. Engineering at its core is about networking as it requires you to cooperate and work with other people within a team structure. To be successful in engineering one not only needs the social skills to connect with people but also the professional opportunities whereby one can apply those skills. Thus, the social and professional networks work in harmony providing balance in an individual’s life paving way to success.

Professional networking in a broad definition provides professional development. In an article in Harvard Business Review, Ibarra, INSEAD Professor and Hunter an investigative journalist, describes networks of being three kinds . One is operational Network which is ‘to build good working relationships with the people who can help them do their jobs’ (Ibarra and Hunter 2007)[1]. This requires, communicating and building relationships with your clients, your peers and your boss. This may include winning support from your peers for a new project or collaborating with a different department to perform your duty. This type of network is described as one being that is most commonly cultivated in a professional life. The main benefit of this type of networking according to the journal is ‘to ensure coordination and cooperation among people who have to know and trust one another in order to accomplish their immediate tasks’ (Ibarra and Hunter 2007)[2]. This increased ‘coordination’ with peers makes an individual more likely to be considered for a promotion or get a recommendation. For an engineer this type of networking is vital as recommendations from peers lead to positive impact on the career. Furthermore, healthy work relations improve work efficiency which ultimately leads to success.
The second type of a network mentioned is Personal Networks. Unlike operational networking ‘the contacts are mostly external’ (Ibarra and Hunter 2007)[3] and the people might not be essential in your immediate task. Establishing relationships with them is of benefit as it allows you to evolve in your field and get feedback on your ideas from different perspectives and enable you to stay up to date with recent developments in your area of expertise. In other words ‘to benchmark yourself with peers outside, to remain a bit on the cutting edge of your profession’ (Ibarra and Hunter 2007)[4]. As an engineer meeting new people from various fields is common, thus this type of networking provides you with the relevant skills.
The third which is stated as being the most tough but also the most essential is Strategic Networks in which “contacts are both internal and external” (Ibarra and Hunter 2007)[5] which involves looking out to people which are from different fields. This benefits us as It allows to form links with other industry leaders and to share experiences and practices which will ultimately save time and effort in creating a more efficient work environment. Furthermore, it allows you to keep a tab on other industries which might be potentially beneficial. Engineers work closely with industrialists, hence learning to work with them gives them a further career boost.

Although each professional networking has a certain benefit, collectively they provide additional advantage. Networking opens a vast range of opportunities for you as a professional. Today with more people entering engineering field each year the competition is tough and a chance to work in new, exciting projects is very rare. Everyone wants to work in a project that is new, exciting and different from the rest. Recruitment for people to work on such projects is rarely advertised . Instead employers prefer to do it personally face to face. This practice is so predominant that it has been shown that people find about new jobs more from their personal network than any other method (Granovetter 1973)[5] . The rarer a project is, the greater the competition. Through the professional networking you meet employers from your field and hence advertise your name. Furthermore it allows you to share your achievements and your work and presents you a chance to become prominent from the masses. With effective advertising, employers would be more likely to recruit or approach you for projects or job openings thus increasing your chances of getting a job. As mentioned in the article How to Build Your Network’ by Uzzi and Dunlop featured in Harvard Business Review ‘Networks deliver three unique advantages: private information, access to diverse skill sets, and power’ (Uzzi and Dunlop 2005)[7]. Thus, it is evident that professional networking provides engineers with skills that gives them ‘a power’ or advantage over their peers.
Advertising yourself as an engineer is not the only advantages of networking. It allows employees to know you better. It also gives you the opportunity to prove your abilities and skills. Letters and resumes help in letting employer’s know about your abilities and experience, but it fails in conveying your personality, your work ethics, how you are person and how well you would get on with a team. This is where networking regularly comes in and helps you out.
Lastly networking gives you access to information. Information can be about new products developments, innovations or solutions to problems which might save you time and effort to solve similar problems in our own. It also allows you to receive feedback from someone with a different back ground. You get both critiqued and praise from your peers which allows you to develop better ideas. Professional Networking gives you countless opportunities to interact with other professionals, who increases your knowledge and also allow you to look at the world from a different perspective, which as a problem solver is invaluable to an engineer. Learning from others mistakes and experiences saves time and effort and develops better solutions than existing, increasing your profile in the community. Professional networking communities also expose you to information related to your engineering field as well as other fields. This exchange of knowledge not only benefits you but also others around. Thus networking allows people to review, discuss, and critique a wide array of things. This view is also highlighted by Uzzi and Dunlop in ‘How to build your network “Private information, by contrast, is gathered from personal contacts who can offer something unique that cannot be found in the public domain, such as the release date of a new product, unpublished software code, or knowledge about what a particular interviewer looks for in candidates. Private information, therefore, can give top executives an edge” (Uzzi and Dunlop 2005)[8] . Networking in short helps you keep in ‘on the loop’. For example when you are regularly meeting with people from a field such as technological and industrial backgrounds, you are talking to the people who are setting the course for the business and technological trends. So you are aware of the coming technology and business direction and hence better prepare and benefit from the future.
Although professional networking gives you professional skills they don’t insure a successful career as an engineer. This is because professional networking helps build professional skills. For a successful career there needs to be a balance between professional and social skills. Hence, social networking is equally important for an engineer.

Social networking has a broad meaning and definition. It can be taking time to send greetings to your friends and family, or it can be as simple as going out for drinks with like-minded people. The foremost benefit of social networking is that it’s a source of fun. It helps you relax and releases stress. Engineering is a very demanding and stressful job. For smooth professional working it is necessary that individuals don’t tire themselves and be able to adequately relax. As mentioned in ‘Stress Reduction and Management’ socialising balances our hormones level. Release of oxytocin reduces our levels of anxiety. People with social support receive a ‘boost’ of Oxytocin which makes them more confident. They become less nervous and more positive for social contact. Which makes them eager for more socialising and thus the cycle of positive effects of socialising continues. Thus the social networking is beneficial as it counteracts the stress of work, ultimately insuring career success ( Mills , Reiss and Dombeck 2008)[9]. Meeting new people from diverse back grounds via social networks helps you improve your communication skills which can then be employed in professional setting. You learn how to relate, gain a new perspective of life, acquire the ability to not only communicate clearly and listen actively but also how to make an impression on people you don’t know. By constantly engaging and talking to people you gain new confidence in yourself, and get rid of shyness in large gatherings. A person who is confident and is aware of his own worth, attracts people to himself. This allows you to build more meaningful and colourful relationships. “Increased social interaction helps sufferers to rebuild their self-esteem which in turn enables them to maintain and develop positive relationships and friendships” (UCD News 2012)[10] . For an engineer confidence is vital , as part of the job is voicing your ideas and opinions and making others believe in their potential. By overcoming hesitation and low self-worth in social gatherings one can soon establish itself as a potential leader . Socialising also increases your recognition in the community. It increases your recognition among people in your community. They have more information about you, about your personality and what you represent. Your credibility as a trusted relatable person is established. Employers search for credible and trustworthy employees. An engineer’s reputation in the local community can act as recommendation thereby increasing chances of employment.
Further constantly engaging with different people , discussing about different topics engages your mental capacity and teaches you critical thinking and effectively makes you more smarter .In an study by author Oscar Ybarra and his colleagues at the University of Michigan they found that “ interaction that captures normal social activities such as getting to know another person can result in subsequent cognitive benefits “ (Ybarra 2008)[11]. They found that people who engaged more socially displayed higher levels of mental performance than the control group. The study concluded that the more you interact the more you get “cognitive benefits” . The study concluded that when people socialise with others they get “immediate cognitive benefits”. Thus it becomes evident social networking is equally invaluable to engineering which revolves around critical thinking
University students are engineers in making, hence it is vital they realise the potential of networking beforehand so by the time they step into their careers they are ready to apply those skills. From the above argument it is evident that students need to invest themselves in both social and professional networking. At university with over a hundred societies present social networking is easily accessible. Students can meet new peers from diverse backgrounds in those societies and thus practice communication skills. Since they are exposed to multiculturalism they encounter a wide range of views which gives them a broader perspective, and ultimately help in effective decision making. Participating in extracurricular activities especially sports is necessary as it teaches one teamwork skills in a relaxed and fun environment. Furthermore, it also provides a chance to practice leadership qualities which in the upcoming career as an engineer is essential. The university provides countless opportunities for social networking in order to build social skills of the students. However, in order to provide a balance and to ensure successful engineering career, professional networking opportunities are also provide to the students. There are numerous career expos held throughout the year where students get a chance to meet the employers and find what they are looking for in an employee. At times they also get employment offers if they are able to prove their abilities. For further professional grooming students should also make use of professional development workshops held at universities such as writing, presentation, communication etc. Thus, students should effectively use of both social and professional networking so they can have a balance of both skills.

List of references
[1] Ibarra, H and Hunter, M 2007, ‘How Leaders Create and Use Networks’ , Harvard Business Review , January.
[2] Ibarra, H and Hunter, M 2007, ‘How Leaders Create and Use Networks’ , Harvard Business Review , January.
[3] Ibarra, H and Hunter, M 2007, ‘How Leaders Create and Use Networks’ , Harvard Business Review , January.
[4] Ibarra, H and Hunter, M 2007, ‘How Leaders Create and Use Networks’ , Harvard Business Review , January.
[5] Ibarra, H and Hunter, M 2007, ‘How Leaders Create and Use Networks’ , Harvard Business Review , January.
[6] Granovetter, Mark S 1973 , ‘The strength of weak ties’ , American Journal of Sociology , vol 78 , issue 6, 1360-1380. p. 1371 .
[7] Uzzi, B and Dunlop ,S 2005 , ‘How to Build Your Network’ , Harvard Business Review ,December.
[8] Uzzi, B and Dunlop ,S 2005 , ‘How to Build Your Network’ , Harvard Business Review , December.
[9] Harry Mills, Ph.D., Natalie Reiss, Ph.D. and Mark Dombeck, Ph.D , Updated Jun 30th 2008 , accessed 09 April 2014 ,<> .
[10] UCD News ,Posted 13 June 2012 , accessed 09 April 2014 , <> .
[11] Ybarra , O 2008 , ‘Mental Exercising Through Simple Socializing: Social Interaction Promotes General Cognitive Functioning’ ,Pers Soc Psychol Bull , February ,248-259.

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